With education costs skyrocketing, an overwhelming number of dairy youth applied for scholarship help from Idaho dairy producers this year.
When leaders of the United Dairymen of Idaho and two affiliates – the Idaho Dairy Products Commission and the Idaho Dairymen's Association – agreed to establish a scholarship program this year, they intended to award $1,500 scholarships to seven students who were members of Idaho dairy farm families.
An overwhelming response to the program, however, changed that and immediately raised the bar.
"There were so many qualified applicants from local dairy farm families that the Scholarship Selection Committee just couldn't turn them away," says Mike Roth, IDA producer-president.
"With the rising cost of college and the past few years of economic tough conditions on dairy farms, even a smaller scholarship like this helps underwrite the cost of books and classes. Any kind of funding has become extremely important to our kids and families."
As a result of the rush for help, the dairymen increased the number of scholarships to 15, more than doubling their original figure.
"As representatives of the Board of Directors for UDI, we recognize what a precious resource our children are and how our future lies in their hands," says Sherman Toone, a board member.
"We also recognize that for our children to follow their dreams it takes money, dedication, desire, and determination. As an organization, we are pleased to help a few of our deserving students of Idaho dairy farm families with 15 scholarships at $1,500 each."
UDI's scholarship program honors the academic excellence of children of dairy farm families. Besides their academic success, other factors in awarding the scholarships included: extracurricular activities, community and volunteer activities, and an essay on how the applicant planned on using his or her degree in their chosen career path.
Idaho is the nations third largest dairy state, following California and Wisconsin, with nearly 500 dairy operations, many of which are multigenerational. The industry in Idaho produces 12 billion pounds of milk a year, and generates $1.4 billion annually in economic activity.